The Effect of An Emergency Evacuation on the Spread of COVID19

Sachit Butail, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In an emergency evacuation, people almost always come in close proximity as they quickly leave a built environment under a potential threat. With COVID19, this situation presents yet another challenge: that of getting unintentionally exposed to an infected individual. To assess the epidemiological consequences of an emergency evacuation, we expanded a popular pedestrian dynamic model to enable social distancing during a normal exit and analyze the effect of possible transmission through respiratory droplets and aerosol. Computer simulations point to a troubling outcome, whereby the benefits of a quick exit could be outweighed by the risk of infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number631264
JournalFrontiers in Physics
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


  • COVID19
  • aerosol
  • crowds
  • evacuation
  • proximity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Mathematical Physics
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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